Squamous cell carcinoma treatment options are recommended based on the cancer’s size, location, and stage. In most cases, squamous cell carcinoma is caught and excised before it has a chance to spread, meaning most patients will not need to experience more rigorous treatments. However, this form of cancer can metastasize, and if left undiagnosed and untreated, it can be fatal. When treated early, the cure rate is well over 90%, but metastasis occurs in between 1% and 5% of cases. There are 5 stages of squamous cell carcinoma, and only in the later stages does this cancer become a larger threat.
If your doctor determines you need treatment, you will have several options available. Here are some of the options you might discuss with a dermatologist at our Mt. Vernon clinic.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Removal and Biopsy
There are several types of surgery that can be used to treat squamous cell carcinomas. Excision, or cutting out the tumor, is among the most popular biopsies. It is most commonly used to treat small squamous cell carcinomas because it is easy, relatively painless, and not invasive. Very small squamous cell carcinomas can also respond well to curettage and electrodesiccation, which are quick, office-based techniques wherein an electrical current is used to remove a skin lesion.
If your cancer is on the larger side, Mohs surgery is an often-recommended squamous cell carcinoma treatment. This surgery is used for tumors that measure around one inch across, as they pose a higher risk for coming back. This surgical technique involves progressively removing thin layers of cancerous skin, then examining each until only cancer-free tissue remains.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma Treatment
If your doctor concludes, either from the biopsy or a related test, that your cancer has spread beyond a localized skin lesion, you will need to undergo additional treatment to completely rid the body of cancer cells. Some types of squamous cell carcinoma treatment are designed to kill the cancer, while others are meant to slow or stop the disease’s spread.
- Cryotherapy: This treatment option involves the freezing of cancerous cells. The process kills the disease in targeted areas, and it is a good option for people who cannot have surgery. However, because the freezing must happen superficially, it is not recommended for larger, more invasive tumors, or lesions that appear on delicate skin, like the eyelids, ears, nose, and scalp.
- Immunotherapy: If squamous cell carcinoma cannot be cured with surgery or radiation, immunotherapy drugs may be the answer. This treatment stimulates an individual’s own immune system so that it recognizes and destroys cancer cells more effectively. It has worked as advanced squamous cell skin carcinoma treatment.
- Targeted Therapy: The drugs provided in targeted therapy attack certain parts of skin cancer cells. This treatment works differently from standard chemotherapy, but it may be used in conjunction with other treatments to eradicate cancer from the body.
- Chemotherapy: This treatment uses drugs to attack cancer cells that have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs. This, often used in conjunction with targeted therapy, is a rigorous form of cancer treatment that often has side effects. Skin cancer patients may receive systemic or topical chemotherapy.
- Radiation therapy: This is a good option for patients with larger cancers or those who cannot have surgery. Radiation is sometimes used after surgery to confirm that the cancer has been removed. However, this is not often the first treatment option for younger patients, as there are possible long-term risks.
Schedule an Appointment
Don’t wait to schedule an appointment for squamous cell carcinoma treatment with one of our board certified medical dermatologists. Whether you have just discovered a lesion or your skin cancer has already been detected, do not want to wait to get medical care. Squamous cell carcinoma is a very survivable cancer, and treatment options are typically quick, outpatient procedures. With early detection of squamous cell carcinoma symptoms, treatment becomes even more effective.